The Press Democrat

The Press Democrat, with the largest circulation in the California North Bay (San Francisco Bay Area), is a daily newspaper published in Santa Rosa, California.

The Press Democrat
The February 28, 2012 front page of
The Press Democrat
TypeDaily newspaper
Owner(s)Sonoma Media Investments LLC
EditorCatherine Barnett
(as the Sonoma Democrat)
Headquarters427 Mendocino Avenue
Santa Rosa, California 95401
 United States
Circulation54,000 Daily
59,000 Sunday[1]

The Press Democrat's staff is winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting for "[f]or lucid and tenacious coverage of historic wildfires that ravaged the city of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County."[2] Former staff photographer Annie Wells also won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography "for her dramatic photograph of a local firefighter rescuing a teenager from raging floodwaters."[3]

The newspaper was also the recipient of the 2004 George Polk Award for Regional Reporting[4] given annually by Long Island University to honor contributions to journalistic integrity and investigative reporting.


The newspaper was founded in 1897 by Ernest L. Finley who merged his Evening Press and Thomas Thompson's Sonoma Democrat (originally created as a voice for the Democratic Party).

Finley also bought the Santa Rosa Republican in 1927 and merged it with the Press Democrat in 1948.

Ernest L. Finley, his wife Ruth, daughter Ruth, and son-in-law Evert Person owned and published the "PD" between 1897 and 1985. Evert and Ruth Finley Person sold the paper to The New York Times Company in 1985.

The most popular feature in the newspaper for many years was Gaye LeBaron's community column, according to a readership survey. LeBaron produced more than 8,000 columns between 1961 and her semi-retirement in 2001, writing on human interest, cultural events, ethnic history and local politics.[5][6]

The Press Democrat is now owned by Sonoma Media Investments, LLC after it was purchased from Halifax Media Group.[7] The New York Times Company bought the paper from the Finley family in 1985, as well as the North Bay Business Journal and the Petaluma Argus-Courier, which were also acquired by the Halifax Media Holdings LLC. Halifax resold its California papers at the end of 2012 to a local ownership group that includes Douglas H. Bosco[8] and Jean Schulz, widow to Peanuts comic strip creator Charles M. Schulz.


  1. "Audit Bureau of Circulation". Audit Bureau of Circulation's eCirc numbers for figures reported 3/31/2007. Retrieved July 9, 2007.
  2. Pulitzer Prizes. "Pulitzer Prize". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  3. Pulitzer Prizes. "Pulitzer Prize". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  4. "George Polk Awards for Journalism press release". Long Island University. Retrieved November 22, 2006.
  5. Tesconi, Tim (18 March 2001). "Voice of the Community". The Press Democrat. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  6. Silverstein, Louis (1990). "Newspaper Design for The Times". Van Nostrand Reinhold. p. 260. ISBN 0442283210.
  7. "It's official: Press Democrat sold to local group". 8 November 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  8. "Local group to buy The Press Democrat, affiliated publications". 1 November 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
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